JIS News

The Government is spending some $3.08 billion on two years supply of pharmaceuticals, including a range of drugs for chronic illnesses, such as hypertension.

This sum is being expended through 28 contracts with as many local and international suppliers.

The announcement was made on March 14, by Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, at the Jamaica House press briefing, held at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Director of the Pharmaceutical Division, National Health Fund (NHF), Marcia Chin See, explained that the pharmaceuticals cover 690 items, and include branded and generic drugs for government hospitals and health centres.

She noted that the government will realise savings of $330 million under these contracts, compared with the previous tender award.

Mrs. Chin See pointed out that the supplies will also include drugs for diseases such as: diabetes,  asthma and other chronic illnesses.         
Explaining the need to source the items from a range of companies, she said there have been problems where certain drugs are no longer being manufactured by the traditional suppliers, and hence the Division has had to locate these drugs wherever it can.

“There are items that Jamaica and even some First World countries still use, but there are difficulties sourcing them, so there are shortages from time to time, globally,” she said.

Mrs. Chin See pointed out that the service level to hospitals for chronic illnesses and critical items is now at 88 per cent, and that the first batch of drugs should be supplied within a month.

“We are not just awaiting these…we are purchasing as we go along (so) it is not that we are out now and waiting,” she said.

The contracts have been endorsed by the Ministry of Finance and Planning and the National Contracts Commission.

By Alphea Saunders, JIS Senior Reporter